Girls basketball: Tale of two halves

Sometimes the journey is worth retelling. That was the case when Jonathan Law played host Hillhouse High from New Haven in an SCC girls basketball game at the James Richetelli Sr. Gymnasium in Milford on Friday night.

The visiting Academics, coached by Catrina Hawley-Stewart, brought a 3-4 record into the matchup with coach Dan Young’s 4-2 Eagles. Hillhouse came away with a 72-60 victory.

“They played well with the lead,” Young said after Law’s four-game win streak was snapped. “We didn’t come out with the urgency against a team like that. They were hungrier than us.”

Hillhouse did almost everything a coach could ask for when it took a 25-12 after one quarter and increased its advantage to 41-21 by intermission.

The Acs, behind the play of freshman Kayla Jefferson (18 points), senior Allegra Jones (16 points), senior Cayla Staggers (14 points) and freshman Tanayja London (14 points), made the extra pass. They slid correctly on defense to take away passing lanes and had great individual play to polish off the gem of a half.

Jonathan Law had some good looks at the basket that wouldn’t fall, but overall the Eagles looked a step slow and their shooting from the perimeter was non existent.

“They have really good players, I thought we did a real good job stopping them in the first half,” Hawley-Stewart said. “I thought our team defense did a very good job.”

Law upped its pressure on the basketball in the second half.

It took some doing — and playing through the loss of Erin Staley — but the Eagles brought the home crowd back into the game.

Saley, a senior center, left the game to ice an injury with 14 points to her credit with 2:07 left in the third period. The Acs led 48-30 at that point, but the Eagles kept grinding it out.

Samara Thacker, a freshman, took over the rebounding duties and made a pair of free throws with 5:16 remaining to take the score to 54-43.

Jessica Centore tipped a pass to Kailee Frank, got the ball back from Laura Dulin, and scored off the glass to cut the deficit to 54-45.

Hillhouse began to solve the press that had limited its offense, as London scored in transition.

Frank dropped in a 3-pointer from the right corner, off a Thacker assist, and Law was within 56-48 with 4:14 remaining.

A pair of missed free throws by the Eagles offset a Hillhouse turnover.

Law had one last rally left. A Centore steal and two free throws, a putback basket, and a driving hoop by Dulin made it a nine-point game.

Frank slapped the ball away on a break attempt by the Acs and Centore came away with the loose ball. Law had a long-range shot to again make it a six-point game, but it missed.

Hillhouse regrouped in the final 2:30 and scored points on six straight possessions.

Centore finished with 22 points and Dulin 10.

Law will host Trinity Catholic from Stamford on Tuesday at 7 p.m.